My favorite place in the South (and the world) is our family beach house on the Intracoastal Waterway near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. We reach this coastal oasis from Charlotte via I-74, a highway that keeps you on your toes with countless stop lights and attractions such as The Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, NC.
If you like touring through tiny towns and hour and half stretches in between public bathrooms – this is definitely the route for you. I do often enjoy the highway’s “road trip” feel – reminiscent of my trek across the country a decade ago. However, the leisurely pace of the I-74 drive has always been a bit long for a weekend visit.
We were thrilled to discover on our trip to the coast for Easter that some of I-74’s much delayed updates had been completed. The drive took about 4 hours from door-to-door (saving about 20 minutes) thanks to a new multi-lane stretch of interstate. It felt even faster as the new highway replaced a primitive portion of one lane road that seemed to go on forever. So we arrived at our destination in less time, while still enjoying the rustic charm of locales such as Polkton, NC (Home of the Field of Dreams) along the way.
I would happily drive any distance to reach the beach – but will be happy to spend less time in the car and more time enjoying the view.